Guests at illegal engagement party to be slapped with $5500 fines

·5-min read

People who attended an engagement party in Melbourne during the citywide lockdown will be copping fines of up to $5500 each.

Victoria Police said the illegal engagement party allegedly happened on August 11 and was "a deliberate and blatant breach of the Chief Health Officer directions".

The party took place at a private residence in Caulfield North, with police only becoming aware of the event after footage was shared to social media.

Incredibly, several attendees were medical professionals, whose presence at the event is under investigation by police.

The engagement party infuriated many, including Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who announced an extension to Melbourne's lockdown on Monday.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said the party was being investigated by police. He said he had crunched the numbers and worked out the staggering amount attendees could be fined in total.

Attendees at the illegal engagement party could face thousands in fines. Source: AAP
Attendees at the illegal engagement party could face thousands in fines. Source: AAP

"Everyone will be given an infringement notice," he said. 

"I did the maths, I'm not that sharp at it but the way I work through it, at about $5500 each, if you take off a few for each child, that's going to be over $350,000 worth of fines.

"That's an expensive engagement party."

The party went ahead in breach of lockdown restrictions, and a video which appears to be taken at the event shows guests not wearing face masks and a man giving a speech.

"Clearly this is legal as a group therapy session. That's why my father's here," the man jokes.

Victoria Police said investigators were told 69 people were at the party and they are working to identify everyone who was in attendance. 

"It is expected that all adults who attended the party, including the organisers, will be fined $5,452. Children will not be fined," Victoria Police said.

"Victoria Police will not tolerate these acts of selfishness when the vast majority of people are doing the right thing and postponing their engagement parties and weddings for the safety of our community."

The family has been subject to death threats and all attendees are now isolating, as are 90 of their close contacts. 

Three people, including a mother and son in St Kilda East, have tested positive for Covid following the event.

"We did wrong, but the hate coming our way is just so mean. So far we are all isolating and have received negative results," a woman who attended the party said, according to the ABC.

An illegal engagement party in Melbourne has sparked fears of a super-spreader event. Source: ABC
An illegal engagement party in Melbourne has sparked fears of a super-spreader event. Source: ABC

Medical professionals among partygoers

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) on Monday confirmed it has received "a number of complaints about registered health practitioners" who attended the event in Caulfield North last week.

AAP understands at least two medical professionals attended the engagement party, which is also being investigated by police.

"We are aware that Victoria Police have stated that they intend to take action with respect to individuals who attended the event," an APHRA spokesperson told AAP.

"We will liaise with them in relation to any registered health practitioners who were present."

The spokesperson said due to privacy laws they are limited in what they can say publicly about "any action we are or may be taking regarding individual practitioners".

In announcing the two-week extension of the state's lockdown, Mr Andrews slammed the event's hosts and guests for making "selfish" and " s***ty choices".

"If you listen and watch the video, it's clear that there are some medical professionals there, might I be so bold as to say that they've perhaps not necessarily acquitted themselves very well," he said.

"Do no harm. Spreading the virus hurts everybody."

Melburnians 'lucky' to cop warnings

Melbourne's lockdown has been further extended until at least September 2, after 22 new Covid infections were reported on Monday.

In addition to the lockdown, people in Melbourne will be subject to tighter restrictions starting from 11.59pm on Monday, including a curfew from 9pm to 5am.

Commissioner Patton said up until today, police had been "fair" when it came to breaches of the lockdown, giving out both warnings and infringements.

Warnings over — all breaches to be fined

However, he said the time for discretion is "over" for the most part.

"If anyone gets a warning moving forward from here on in, they're going to be very lucky. The time for discretion is over, we will be issuing infringements," he said on Monday.

"I am advising all of my officers today, that that's an expectation where it's a deliberate and blatant breach."

He said there will be discretion where appropriate but it will be a 'very small window' for it, adding that he is relaunching Operation Shielding.

The premier slammed people in Melbourne "turning footpaths into impromptu beer gardens" and announced new restrictions prohibiting people from removing their masks to drink takeaway alcohol.

The new rule will be enforced from 11.59pm on Monday, along with the other restrictions.

Over the weekend, up to 100 fines were issued to people not abiding by the public health orders, including a takeaway-drink pub crawl in Richmond and a 200-person street party in Northcote.

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